Jonathan Crombie, the Canadian actor best known for his role as Gilbert Blythe in the “Anne of Green Gables” television miniseries, has died.
His sister, Carrie Crombie, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday that he died Wednesday in New York City of a brain hemorrhage.
“He was funny, he was sweet, he loved acting, he loved comedy and singing and dancing,” she said.
In “Anne of Green Gables,” adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved 1908 novel, he played the handsome, confident boy who first taunts then falls in love with spirited orphan Anne Shirley (Megan Follows). The 1985 miniseries, set on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, aired domestically on PBS and was followed by two sequels, “Anne of Avonlea” (1987) and “Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.” Crombie returned to star in both.
The first two miniseries were pledge-week favorites that aired on heavy rotation on PBS throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, turning Crombie into a heartthrob for bookish adolescent girls who identified with plucky Anne.
The news of Crombie’s death Saturday prompted widespread mourning on social media, where many fans cited his Gilbert Blythe as their first crush.
The actor, whose father David Crombie was mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978, got the role in “Anne of Green Gables” after a casting agent saw him in a high school version of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Though he remained best known for his work in the “Anne of Green Gables” adaptations, Crombie continued to act throughout his life, appearing in a Broadway staging of “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2007 and in the Canadian cult series “Slings & Arrows.” He also guest-starred in an episode of the CBS drama “The Good Wife” this season.
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